Why is John Brenkus So Excited about Kill Cliff Energy Drinks?

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: John Brenkus hosts the Beyond Sport Global Awards on July 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: John Brenkus hosts the Beyond Sport Global Awards on July 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images) /

John Brenkus has Kill Cliff energy drinks running at full steam in a crowded marketplace.

Energy drinks are a dime a dozen, but when a company can offer a product in that category that is clean, all bets are off. And Kill Cliff does precisely that. For the uninformed, I asked the company’s Chief Marketing Officer John Brenkus how the company’s clean products differentiate themselves.

“It’s no sugar and nothing artificial, nothing fake: only clean, green tea caffeine. Our recovery drink is 25 milligrams of clean caffeine, and our Ignite product is 150 milligrams of clean caffeine. They’re not drinks that you’re going to be out of your mind after you consume them. Our fan base has really grown because they’re something that you can drink all the time. Every day. The use case scenario is literally anytime that you want to hydrate, to just drink something, you can, unlike Red Bull or Monster.”

I’m not an energy drink guy, but I decided to try both of the drinks mentioned above before chatting with John Brenkus and have no qualms about saying that I was pleasantly surprised across the board. They tasted great and had the desired effect without me ever feeling wired. I shared my experiential anecdote with John.

“I hear a lot of stories like yours. Where people are like, ‘oh my god, this actually worked!’ It’s loaded with B vitamins and electrolytes and things that are good for you. And since it’s good for you, your body is absorbing it in a different way than it does when it’s loaded with sugar and synthetic caffeine.”

When a company’s CMO sings the praises of their product, it’s incumbent upon writers like me and consumers in general, to take such enthusiasm with a grain of salt, pending the chance to sample it directly. And while I took the same approach to Kill Cliff before speaking to John Brenkus, his bonafides went a long way towards erasing some of that doubt.

As the Emmy award-winning creator & host of ESPN‘s Sport Science, Brenkus comes to the energy drink arena bearing the kind of credentials that lend instant credibility. And with an infectious enthusiasm that’s instantly palpable, I was more inclined to keep an open mind. Did I mention that Kill Cliff’s drinks taste good too?

The company’s other product offering is Kill Cliff CBD, which John Brenkus spoke about.

“Our CBD drink is the best-selling CBD drink in the country. I drink the CBD drink throughout the day, all the time. And I just seem to feel better. One of the reasons it works is because it’s 25 milligrams of caffeine and 25 milligrams of CBD. And the reason why it has caffeine and people would think that’s almost an oxymoron, but it’s not because the 25 milligrams of caffeine is just enough to open up the capillaries, to open up everything in your body to allow the CBD to be absorbed. A lot of people have such an overwhelmingly positive reaction that it becomes their go-to drink.”

A key component in Brenkus’ approach to building the Kill Cliff brand is its Badassadors program. Among the people who are “representing the brand and crushing souls” in their role as a Badassador are UFC champion (and Clevelander!) Stipe Miocic, WWE Superstar Lacey Evans, and comedian & uber-popular podcast host Joe Rogan.

I asked Brenkus about the origins of Kill Cliff’s relationship with Joe Rogan.

“Joe Rogan is one of the biggest Badassadors that we have. If you were ever going to pick an ambassador who represents the brand, he is like right on the Kill Cliff audience. And he came to the brand in a very organic way. He just really liked it and was drinking it. He was not a paid ambassador initially; he just loved the product. When you find people who find Kill Cliff organically and stick with it because it’s really good, that says something. And that’s fulfilling the promise of a killer-tasting, clean energy source.”

The relationship with Rogan is growing exponentially as we speak, with the collaboration resulting in today’s release of Flaming Joe, Killer Cliff’s newest CBD drink. The “fiery pineapple fusion,” Hemp-infused clean energy drink, has 25 milligrams of CBD, no sugar, electrolytes, and B-vitamins. It has a flavor that the company describes as “bold and spicy.” And as Joe Rogan himself says, “it’s amazing how much good you can get out of a kettlebell and a can of Kill Cliff CBD.”


Kill Cliff is more than just a company that’s peddling products though. Founded by former Navy SEAL Todd Ehrlich, a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Navy SEAL Foundation. John Brenkus spoke about the impetus for that partnership.

“The Navy SEAL Foundation is really core to the brand because Todd, as a Navy SEAL founded Kill Cliff. It’s in the DNA of the company to want to give back and to be as supportive as possible to the Navy SEAL community. That ethos is something that’s very important.”

In chatting with John Brenkus, Kill Cliff’s mission statement is always front and center in his messaging. Produce a clean product and give back in the process. And when that product tastes good, such a mantra is easy to execute.

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Have you tried Kill Cliff? What is your go to energy drink?